A Reckless Disregard for covid-19 Protocols: Can we take another lockdown?

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“Remember: wear your mask, it’s for your safety, wash your hands, it’s for your safety and the safety of your family and community, practice social distancing, these are the things that would ensure that in the second wave of covid we can come out just as strong as we did in the first wave”. Hon. Akilah Byron-Nisbett, Minister of Health Et.al.

After months of lockdowns, having borders closed, and seeing firsthand the global health, economic and social impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, there appears to be a lackadaisical and carefree attitude amongst a large cross section of the population of St. Kitts and Nevis. Persons are refusing to adhere to the protocols intended to prevent and remedy the crisis situation. While the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to provide guidelines for countries to ease mandatory curfews, as borders reopen throughout the world, St. Kitts and Nevis is found wanting. Many persons continue to be insensitive; disregarding the behavioral changes that come with the new normal.

The alarm has been sounded that a second wave of the virus is inevitable and no one truly knows, how many cases of covid-19 are on island and would be imported as our borders reopen and the Caricom Bubble comes into effect. Mr. Abdias Samuel Chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force in a recent briefing reiterating compliance to the covid-19 protocols said “there have been improvements in the general public using masks….we have a long way to go”. Other protocols include hand hygiene and sanitation, physical and social distancing; all non pharmaceutical methods prove effective.

According to (WHO) each individual country should conduct a risk-benefit analysis and decide on its priorities as it relates to the relaxation of curfews, opening of borders etc. Such an analysis therefore needs strategic planning and an all societal approach with the aim of preserving public health. The National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) continues to listen to the dilemma of persons in the entertainment sector and allow for some functions to be held but the promoters continue to disregard the established restrictions. The recent (5 in 1) event held in Nevis over the Independence holiday weekend was a prime example of irresponsible and selfish behavior on the part of those involved. One of the protocols urge that we avoid going to crowded places, where people come together in crowds, as persons are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has covid-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 meter (3 feet). Yet persons continue to let down their guard, being impatient and overwhelmed with emotions, forgetting that it cannot be business as usual.

Many are forgetting the strides gained since the pandemic knock shore in March of this year. The robust collaborations by the private and public sectors on St. Kitts and Nevis to curtail the virus are admirable. The Ministry of Health, (NEOC) along with frontline workers continue to utilize the available resources on island to monitor, test, isolate, quarantine and treat those who may have been exposed to the virus, while disseminating this information regularly. Our public health care came under pressure but was strengthened by the support of CARPHA, PAHO, WHO and other international institutions.

Management of COVID-19

The federation has so far managed the pandemic well, being considered as one of the best covid-19 managed countries in the world, with only 19 confirmed cases to date; 17 recovered; 2 active and 0 deaths. Worldwide there are 31 425 029 confirmed cases and 967 164 confirmed deaths.
In examining the situation in the Americas presented by PAHO September 23rd 2020; an additional 121,254 cases and 3,268 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours. Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director, in presenting on preparation for the covid-19 vaccine stated that “We’ll still need diagnostics to identify those who are sick and better treatments to care for those that fall ill. We’ll continue to rely on traditional public health measures like tests, contact tracing and quarantines to minimize the spread of this virus, and we’ll continue to count on people exercising social distancing, washing their hands often and wearing masks in public to protect others from getting sick,”.

Citizens, residents and visitors on St. Kitts and Nevis cannot become complacent and passive as it relates to the covid-19 protocols. The economic and health risks should there be a surge could see our islands going back on lockdown. It may also lead to a delay in the reopening of the borders or even a possible re- closure of the borders. From all reports what have been accomplished because of the nature of covid-19 can all be lost with one untraced case of the virus. It is therefore pertinent that a more serious and cautious approach be taken by individuals. Clearly combating covid-19 requires the personal and collective responsibility of everyone. The resilient people of St. Kitts and Nevis have much to be thankful for and should continue to cooperate with the government in ensuring that together they ‘beat’ the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic.

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